What to Do When You Hit a Weight Loss Plateau
One of the most common mistakes people make when they stop seeing progress on the scales is they give up!
They start of great, preparing food, sticking to the plan, do all the exercises and plod along losing weight good-o. Then suddenly after a couple of weeks they hit a plateau and think things like..
“Oh this is no use I give up”
“Just like very fad diet out there it didn’t work”
OR rather than blame the diet perhaps you blame yourself….
“Ah I can never stick to anything, I have no will power I’m useless sure whats the point its not working”
And soon your munching into your favourite bar of chocolate while trying to open a bottle of wine before you change your mind or someone catches you “cheating” on your diet. (BTW theres nothing wrong with eating chocolate and drinking wine its more about the mindset!)
Now there are a few things wrong about that scenario aside from the self loathing, the negativity and the self blame but what I want to talk about today is less about the mental side of this scenario (lets save that for another blog) instead I want to talk about the physical side and address whats really going on inside the body and why you have hit that plateau and suddenly stopped losing weight.
You see, weight loss is not linear.
Its not a smooth decent to skinniness, if it was we’d all be there.
What happens is your body fights against you throughout the process.
Right now your body is in its comfort zone, whether you like tit or not , whether you are healthy or not your body is comfortable being as it is right now. Even though it may not be healthy and your organs are struggling its comfortable. This is what we call homeostasis.
When we change up our nutrition or or exercise we start to challenge the body and like a child who doesn’t want to play ball the body stamps its foot in protest .
We lose a little bit of weight and soon we hit a plateau. But a plateau doesn’t necessarily mean what you are doing isn’t working – au contraire mon frere… a plateau actually means it’s working!
You see weight loss is actually a series of plateaus.
Instead of giving up when you step on the scales and don’t see any change you need to fist pat your self on the back for achieving what you have achieved in the last few weeks and understand that its time to change things up a bit.
The body has reached its new comfort zone . And when it gets here we need to challenge it again.
And we do this by either changing up our nutrition or our exercise and we can do this in a number of ways.
Step 1 – Change your Nutrition
Rather than eating less and less and less and less you can change up your meal frequency i.e the number of meals you have
Change your macro ratios e.g. increase your protein or fibre and decrease your carbohydrates
Carb cycle i.e have high and low carb days
Try intermittent fasting e.g. eat between 10am -6pm and fast beyond that
There are a number of strategies you can implement when this happens and I encourage you to find ones that suit your lifestyle. Be prepared, you will ht a plateau again and then you will need to change it up until you achieve your goal.
Step 2- Change your Exercise
You can also do this by changing your exercise, for example:
Begin some form of exercising for starters e.g walking and then progress to jogging
Start lifting weights, or if you already are you can lift heavier weights or increase the sets / rep ranges
Try a HIIT Session to challenge your body differently - read more about this here
Increase your cardio sessions
Change your speed, your distance or time e.g. run/ cycle /swim faster, longer or further
The main thing to remember about any exercise programme is that it needs to be both progressive ( you can either go further, longer, heavier or faster) and challenging.
There are many ways to change your exercise up and a good trainer will change your programme every 6 weeks to avoid the body getting too comfortable, keep it challenged and avoid a plateau.
So to recap, a plateau is your bodys way of saying “hey I’m comfortable now you need to change something”
Instead of giving up and packing in use this as a time to reflect on everything that has gone well and adjust your process slightly.
Learn more about the weight loss process check out our podcast with Elaine Baxter “Weight Loss, It’s More Than Just Calories” is available now.
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Elysia Doody is a Functional Nutritionist & Exercise Coach specialising in female health and wellness.
She’s embraced Functional Medicine to address her health concerns, and is now helping as many women as possible in a similar position.
Taking everything she’s learned through education, her own health, and working with clients, she’s keen to share it all through online programmes.
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